Nausea according to Chinese Medicine

Nausea can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like nausea here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here nausea is often associated with vomiting, belching and insomnia in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/rebellious-qi”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause nausea.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of nausea we’ve identified five herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat nausea.

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause nausea

In Chinese Medicine nausea is a symptom for 5 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Inula Flowers (Xuan Fu Hua) is the king ingredient for Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/rebellious-qi

Rebellious Qi

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Normal (light red), Red sides

Rebellious Qi is when Qi flows in the wrong direction. For instance, if one suffers from a rebellious Stomach Qi (a common case), the normal downward flow of Stomach Qi is disrupted and it goes upward instead. This may result in nausea, vomiting, belching or hiccupping.

In addition to nausea, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/rebellious-qi include vomiting, belching and insomnia.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/rebellious-qi is often treated with Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Inula Flowers - Xuan Fu Hua - as a key herb). Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang belongs to the category of "formulas for a rebellious qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Regulates the downward flow of Stomach Qi".

Read more about Rebellious Qi here

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Er Chen Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/damp-phlegm

Damp-Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua)

In addition to nausea, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/damp-phlegm include fatigue, overweight and obesity.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/damp-phlegm is often treated with Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Er Chen Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that dry dampness and transform phlegm", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm".

Read more about Damp-Phlegm here

The Gallbladder is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Gallbladder in Chinese Medicine

Dampness in the Gallbladder

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian)

In addition to nausea, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/dampness-in-the-gallbladder include feeling of heaviness, sticky taste in the mouth and hypochondriac pain.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/dampness-in-the-gallbladder is often treated with San Ren Tang, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Apricot Seeds - Xing Ren - as a key herb). San Ren Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat and expel dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Damp-Heat".

Read more about Dampness in the Gallbladder here

The Stomach is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Stomach in Chinese Medicine

Stomach Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

In addition to nausea, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/stomach-qi-stagnation include vomiting, irritability and belching.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/stomach-qi-stagnation is often treated with Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that promote qi movement", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Regulates the flow of Qi, treats esophageal spasm".

Read more about Stomach Qi Stagnation here

The Stomach is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Stomach in Chinese Medicine

Food Stagnation in the Stomach

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Full (Shi)

In addition to nausea, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/food-stagnation-in-the-stomach include poor appetite, belching and insomnia.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/food-stagnation-in-the-stomach is often treated with Bao He Wan, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Hawthorn Berries - Shan Zha - as a key herb). Bao He Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that reduce food accumulation and transform stagnation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Reduces food stagnation".

Read more about Food Stagnation in the Stomach here

Five herbal formulas that might help with nausea

Chai Hu Shu Gan San

Source date: 1602

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Stagnant Liver Qi and Blood. Alleviates pain. Harmonizes Blood.

Why might Chai Hu Shu Gan San help with nausea?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/rebellious-qi' of which nausea is a symptom.

Read more about Chai Hu Shu Gan San here

Er Chen Tang

Source date: 1148 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm. Regulates Qi and harmonizes the Middle Burner (Stomach and Spleen).

Why might Er Chen Tang help with nausea?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/damp-phlegm' of which nausea is a symptom.

Read more about Er Chen Tang here

San Ren Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Damp-Heat. Disseminates the Qi. Facilitates the Qi mechanisms.

Why might San Ren Tang help with nausea?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/dampness-in-the-gallbladder' of which nausea or vomiting is a symptom.

Read more about San Ren Tang here

Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Regulates the flow of Qi, treats esophageal spasm. Clears Phlegm.

Why might Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang help with nausea?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/stomach-qi-stagnation' of which nausea is a symptom.

Read more about Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang here

Bao He Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Reduces food stagnation. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Bao He Wan help with nausea?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/food-stagnation-in-the-stomach' of which nausea is a symptom.

Read more about Bao He Wan here

Acupuncture points used for nausea

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat nausea

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with nausea?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat nausea as a symptom, like Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang or Si Ni San for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs.

Read more about Liquorice here

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with nausea?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat nausea as a symptom, like Wu Pi Yin or Wu Ling San for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here

Why might Crow-Dipper Rhizome (Ban Xia) help with nausea?

Because Crow-Dipper Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat nausea as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang for instance.

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Drains Dampness and reduces Phlegm. Reverses the flow of Rebellious Qi. Reduces hardenings and relieves distention.

Read more about Crow-Dipper Rhizomes here

Why might Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi) help with nausea?

Because Tangerine Peel is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat nausea as a symptom, like Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang or Er Chen Tang for instance.

Tangerine Peel is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Warms the Spleen and regulates the Middle Burner Qi. Dries Dampness and disperses Phlegm from the Lungs and Middle Burner. Reduces the potential for Stagnation caused by tonifying herbs.

Read more about Tangerine Peel here

Why might Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) help with nausea?

Because Fresh Ginger is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat nausea as a symptom, like Ding Xiang Shi Di Tang or Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang for instance.

Fresh Ginger is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Warms and circulates Qi in the Middle Burner. Calms a restless fetus and treats morning sickness. Treats seafood poisoning.

Read more about Fresh Ginger here